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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
chamber orchestra
orchestra pit
▪ In the full orchestra such doubling is frequently a necessity owing to the tremendous swamping-power of the heavy brass.
▪ The annual Christmas program, with full tuxedoed orchestra, sets, choreography and Broadway-caliber costumes, was standing room only.
▪ In the full orchestra the richness of the general ensemble of course reduces the prominence of the oboe tone.
▪ The story lacks tension and, when the full orchestra is blasting, is hard to follow.
▪ Beaufort Opera shifted their 30 singers, a full orchestra and 130 spectators into the farm building at Brownsea Island in Dorset.
▪ It was a little schmaltzy, accompanied by a full orchestra on a tape instead of by the stage band.
▪ The Octet Scherzo is played beautifully in the revised scoring for full orchestra.
▪ John Chrysostom, it mingles the four soloists with the larger chorus and full orchestra.
▪ Earth Dances is stunning simply on the level of virtuosic deployment of a large orchestra.
▪ The remaining 74 numbers trace that revolution in the context of large jazz orchestras.
▪ The large orchestra was very well conducted by Ormsby Wilkins, who, like the two ballets, received great applause.
▪ Their handling of a large orchestra also reflects radically different attitudes.
▪ The octave combinations are practically confined, in the small orchestra, to 1.
▪ And above that the music, a small brass orchestra playing something fast and upbeat.
▪ The General tucked the baton under his armpit and clapped his hands softly as the small orchestra walked through his study.
▪ And even with a small orchestra Mozart sounds well.
▪ Well, at the morning room end, there would be a small orchestra, on a specially built, movable dais.
▪ That is the reason why only one oboe is usually found in small orchestras.
▪ Avoid it, therefore, in the small orchestra.
▪ In a small orchestra two oboes would be too penetrating and reedy in tone, and two bassoons too thick.
▪ He has played with all the major London symphony and chamber orchestras.
▪ It is true that there are two solo players and equally true that Mackey matches them to a 15-member chamber orchestra.
▪ The ensemble who are based in Caen, are the regional chamber orchestra of Lower Normandy.
▪ Sonata for violin and chamber orchestra.
▪ The opera needs the players for its pit orchestra.
▪ S., methods by which operas hire pit orchestras vary.
▪ I had no idea that a composer could conjure the sounds of trumpets, horns and trombones from a string orchestra.
▪ Symphonic Serenade for string orchestra, Op. 39.
▪ A string orchestra wailed as if in torment.
▪ A string orchestra should have started to play an old-fashioned waltz.
▪ The normal layout of the string orchestra is in four-part harmony, the double bass either doubling the cellos or being silent.
▪ The following passages, taken from well-known or easily obtainable piano music, are suggested as exercises in scoring for string orchestra.
▪ Indeed in the string orchestra, they often give the illusion that bassoons or horns are playing.
▪ She did not leave the hospital without the cello she played in a London symphony orchestra.
▪ Her two brothers are both cellists with well-known symphony orchestras.
▪ When he married her, she was a reserved, very plain girl who played the harp in a provincial symphony orchestra.
▪ What determines whether firms, households, or symphony orchestras respond to price changes?
▪ He has also had many composing commissions for radio big bands and symphony orchestras.
▪ Receiving a Harmonious Edit Imagine listening to a symphony orchestra playing Beethoven.
▪ The conductor's baton with attendant symphony orchestra.
▪ Busacher, after careful thought, had decided he would conduct the orchestra himself this evening.
▪ Leopold Stokowski conducts an orchestra which has been divided into individually-miked sections for increased clarity.
▪ It was mid-afternoon and Karajan led the Berlin orchestra, more or less without break, through Ein Heldenleben.
▪ Starting with Ellis-MacLeod, a silver-haired symphony veteran, they lead the orchestra in a fascinating display of stylistic diversity.
▪ After each conductor leads the orchestra in the morning sessions, some will be called back for afternoon finals.
▪ It is usual for a pupil to play in each orchestra for at least two years before being promoted.
▪ People who have played in the orchestra have a great advantage.
▪ A friend of hers who plays in an orchestra.
▪ But it is the Home Office and indeed the ministers who are playing their part inthe orchestra.
▪ A constant clash and tinkle came from the kitchens across the courtyard, like the percussion section of an orchestra from hell.
▪ As at Side, though, the horseshoe orchestra form has been preserved.
▪ I must say, the orchestra on this occasion was marvellous.
▪ It is true that there are two solo players and equally true that Mackey matches them to a 15-member chamber orchestra.
▪ Take the orchestra out of the pit, and unless you emasculate their contribution, the problem is compounded.
▪ The story lacks tension and, when the full orchestra is blasting, is hard to follow.
▪ When choosing an editor, chose an orchestra leader-an expert to help you create harmony from content and style.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Orchestra \Or"ches*tra\, n. [L. orchestra, Gr. ?, orig., the place for the chorus of dancers, from ? to dance: cf. F. orchestre.]

  1. The space in a theater between the stage and the audience; -- originally appropriated by the Greeks to the chorus and its evolutions, afterward by the Romans to persons of distinction, and by the moderns to a band of instrumental musicians. Now commonly called orchestra pit, to distinguish it from the section of the main floor occupied by spectators.

  2. The space in the main floor of a theater in which the audience sits; also, the forward spectator section of the main floor, in distinction from the parterre, which is the rear section of the main floor.

  3. The place in any public hall appropriated to a band of instrumental musicians.

  4. (Mus.)

    1. Loosely: A band of instrumental musicians performing in a theater, concert hall, or other place of public amusement.

    2. Strictly: A band suitable for the performance of symphonies, overtures, etc., as well as for the accompaniment of operas, oratorios, cantatas, masses, and the like, or of vocal and instrumental solos.

    3. A band composed, for the largest part, of players of the various viol instruments, many of each kind, together with a proper complement of wind instruments of wood and brass; -- as distinguished from a military or street band of players on wind instruments, and from an assemblage of solo players for the rendering of concerted pieces, such as septets, octets, and the like.

  5. (Mus.) The instruments employed by a full band, collectively; as, an orchestra of forty stringed instruments, with proper complement of wind instruments.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

c.1600, "area in an ancient theater for the chorus," from Latin orchestra, from Greek orkhestra, semicircular space where the chorus of dancers performed, with suffix -tra denoting place + orkheisthai "to dance," intensive of erkhesthai "to go, come," from PIE root *ergh- "to mount" (cognates: Sanskrit rghayati "trembles, rages, raves," rnoti "rises, moves," arnah "welling stream;" Old Persian rasatiy "he comes;" Greek ornynai "to rouse, start;" Latin oriri "to rise," origo "a beginning;" Gothic rinnan, Old English irnan "to flow, run"). In ancient Rome, it referred to the place in the theater reserved for senators and other dignitaries. Meaning "group of musicians performing at a concert, opera, etc." first recorded 1720; "part of theater in front of the stage" is from 1768.


n. 1 (context music English) A large group of musicians who play together on various instruments, usually including some from strings, woodwind, brass and/or percussion; the instruments played by such a group. 2 A semicircular space in front of the stage used by the chorus in Ancient Greek and Hellenistic theatres. 3 The area in a theatre or concert hall where the musicians sit, immediately in front of and below the stage, sometimes (also) used by other performers.

  1. n. a musical organization consisting of a group of instrumentalists including string players

  2. seating on the main floor in a theater

Orchestra (disambiguation)

An orchestra is an instrumental ensemble usually composed of string, brass, and woodwind sections, sometimes with a percussion section.

Orchestra may also refer to:

  • MSC Orchestra, a cruise ship built for MSC Cruises
  • "Orchestra", a song by the British band The Servant
  • "Orchestra", the 79th episode of the television show The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
  • "Orchestra", the place where the chorus sings and dances in the theatre of ancient Greece
  • Orchestra Control Engine, a suite of software components for the planning, development and deployment of real-time control applications for industrial machines and robots
  • OW2 Orchestra, a WS-BPEL compliant web services orchestration solution
  • Orchestra (album), a 1988 album by Eberhard Weber
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, a British new wave music band, often abbreviated to Orchestral.
Orchestra (album)

Orchestra is an album by German double bassist and composer Eberhard Weber recorded in 1988 and released on the ECM label.


An orchestra ( or ; ) is a large instrumental ensemble, often used in classical music, that contains sections of string ( violin, viola, cello and double bass), brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes be grouped into a fifth section such as a keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and, for 20th and 21st century compositions, electric and electronic instruments. The term orchestra derives from the Greek ὀρχήστρα (orchestra), the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus. The orchestra grew by accretion throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, but changed very little in composition during the course of the 20th century.

A smaller-sized orchestra for this time period (of about fifty musicians or fewer) is called a chamber orchestra. A full-size orchestra (about 70-100 musicians) may sometimes be called a symphony orchestra or philharmonic orchestra; these modifiers do not necessarily indicate any strict difference in either the instrumental constitution or role of the orchestra, but can be useful to distinguish different ensembles based in the same city (for instance, the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra). A symphony orchestra will usually have over eighty musicians on its roster, in some cases over a hundred, but the actual number of musicians employed in a particular performance may vary according to the work being played and the size of the venue. Orchestras which play Baroque music (e.g., J.S. Bach) or Classical music period repertoire (e.g., Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) tend to be smaller than orchestras which perform Romantic music era repertoire (e.g., Brahms).

A leading chamber orchestra might employ as many as fifty musicians; some are much smaller than that. While the term concert orchestra may sometimes be used (e.g., BBC Concert Orchestra; RTÉ Concert Orchestra), no strict distinction is made regarding the size of orchestra by use of this term, although the term is generally restricted to ensembles that perform live concerts. There is a tendency, however, for concert orchestras to be of chamber orchestra size. There are several types of amateur orchestras, including school orchestras (which are made up of students from an elementary school or a high school); youth orchestras; and community orchestras, with the latter two ensembles typically open to amateur musicians from an entire city or region.

Orchestras are usually led by a conductor who directs the performance by way of visible gestures. The conductor unifies the orchestra, sets the tempo and shapes the sound of the ensemble. The conductor also prepares the orchestra by leading rehearsals before the public concert, in which the conductor provides instructions to the musicians on her interpretation of the music being performed. Orchestras play a wide range of repertoire, including symphonies, overtures, concertos, and as pit ensembles for operas, ballets and some types of musical theater (e.g., Gilbert and Sullivan operettas).

Usage examples of "orchestra".

Finally the Principal broke free, and, like an orchestra that has launched a soloist on his cadenza, Welch abruptly fell silent.

His third son, Carl Philip Emanuel, had entered the service of Frederick the Great, and was acting as cembalist in the royal orchestra.

An orchestra, discreetly subdued but innumerable, of crickets and cicalas, accompanies them in an unceasing tremolo--the immense, far-reaching tremolo, which, gentle and eternal, never ceases in Japan.

Romantic orchestra for the small ensemble, using pianos, cimbaloms and percussion instruments to create a simpler, more mechanistic sound.

The flute or aulos does not seem to have been used in connection with the cithara at all, and the Greeks had nothing corresponding to what we call an orchestra.

The orchestra was just beginning a number slower than the others had been, and she realized that he had waited and chosen his moment cither that or bribed the orchestra.

I likewise admired the start given to the orchestra by the baton of the leader, but he disgusted me with the movements of his sceptre right and left, as if he thought that he could give life to all the instruments by the mere motion of his arm.

The company gave a play the next evening, but as only thirty or at most forty people were present, poor Bassi did not know where to turn to pay for the lighting and the orchestra.

In his hands the didgeridoo became a living thing, an imprisoned orchestra, an insistent long-distance call to an atavistic past that went beyond music to penetrate to the heart of whatever it was that made its listeners human.

Busy though he was at the telephone directing the coup in Vienna, he managed to slip over during the evening to the Haus der Flieger, where he was official host to a thousand high-ranking officials and diplomats, who were being entertained at a glittering soiree by the orchestra, the singers and the ballet of the State Opera.

Two years later he was invited to assume the assistant directorship of the private orchestra and choir of Prince Esterhazy, who lived in magnificent style, and for many years had maintained a private musical chapel.

The Harry James orchestra swinging to that death beat dirge as Smitty counted in his head the seconds before he would be beat and hacked at like sweet pine.

There was the boom of a bass drum, and the voice of the orchestra leader rang out suddenly above the echolalia of the garden.

Bert Parks to emcee and had filled the stage with an orchestra and twenty four different church choirs from all over Kansas City, wearing specially designed blue velvet robes with a jeweled Miss Missouri crown embedded on the front.

Edge, Autumn, ex-Troop Sergeant Yount and equestriennes Clover Lee and Monday sat, among a number of other and presumably noble spectators, in the pillared gallery above the acre of tanbark riding area, while a string orchestra in the loggia played and eight gorgeously uniformed officers put their eight extraordinary stallions through their extraordinary paces.